The psychology of sustainable consumption

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This paper investigates the psychological factors that impact sustainable consumption, an area where commerce meets individual behaviors. With a growing trend of sustainability initiatives, the fast fashion industry has been targeted by consumers and firms alike due to the immense damage it causes to the environment throughout its life cycle. While there has been an increased awareness regarding its negative externalities, the consumer-driven industry nevertheless continues to flourish as people have started treating garments as almost a disposable good resulting in firms generating new fashion lines quicker than ever before. In order to combat this issue, one may analyze the psychological process behind sustainable purchasing behavior and apply the findings to marketing communications to increase sustainable purchases. The discussion on the theory of planned behavior, temporal discounting, the role of corporate social responsibility and the trade-off between product attributes illuminate a number of factors ranging from an individual's moral beliefs to the nature of social influence as well as the impact of identity deficits. These findings from psychology are then synthesized and applied to the segmentation, targeting, positioning framework from marketing to offer recommendations for firms selling sustainable apparel. Further studies may investigate how demographic variables such as age or culture may be incorporated into the psychological models intended to understand and influence these recommendations.




Kotahwala, K. (2020). The psychology of sustainable consumption. In Progress in Brain Research (Vol. 253, pp. 283–308). Elsevier B.V.

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